Submitted by Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service
Secondhand smoke kills 600,000 people worldwide and 42,000 in the United States annually, according to 2011 CNN reports. Here in Massachusetts, 1,000 people die from secondhand smoke. We don’t want the Chinatown community to be a part of these statistics, but we’re afraid we might be more vulnerable than other populations because of the role smoking plays in our culture. In Asian cultures, people greet one another with a cigarette as a sign of respect. This tradition is still part of life in Chinatown.
We are smoke-free youth educators from Boston Asian: Youth Essential Service. We are concerned about the health of our community. We want to raise awareness about the negative health effects of living in an environment where one is exposed to secondhand smoke. We support smoke-free housing policies to protect the health of Chinatown residents.
We aren’t alone in our concerns. Residents living in Tai Tung Village and Mass Pike Towers want healthier and smoke-free living for themselves and their families too. In 2011, a Boston Asian YES survey conducted by youth found 65 percent of Tai Tung Village residents and 71 percent of residents in Mass Pike Towers are concerned about secondhand smoke.
Residents in these two housing developments have good reason to be concerned. There are 7,000 chemicals in tobacco, with more than 250 proven to be harmful and at least 69 carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances that can cause all types of cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause chronic diseases like lung cancer.
There is also evidence suggesting secondhand smoke may be linked with childhood leukemia and cancers of the larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), brain, bladder, rectum, stomach and breast.
Secondhand smoke is when a person inhales smoke from smokers indirectly. Many people know that smoking is unhealthy; however, they don’t know that secondhand smoke is also extremely harmful. Studies show that 21 million or 35 percent of children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke on a daily basis. The majority of U.S. children — 50 to 75 percent — contain the breakdown of nicotine in their blood. We don’t want Chinatown’s children to be part of those figures, but unfortunately our surveys indicate they are.
We want more smoke-free homes in Chinatown. We support residents living in Tai Tung Village and Mass Pike Towers who want healthier and smoke-free living for themselves and their families. Housing developments in Boston that are smoke-free have great support from the residents. It has even helped some long-term smokers quit smoking, and it may help prevent a new generation of smokers.
By informing residents of the harmful effects caused by secondhand smoke, we hope it will encourage owners and policy-makers to support smoke-free housing, which will reduce the impact of secondhand smoke.
This post is also available in: Chinese